Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Heroes Con '08

Man! HeroesCon was quite a show, lots of fun. I rode up with Shawn Crystal, Andrew Robinson, and Nolan Woodard on Thursday. I went downstairs in the convention center and set up my table, and then took a nap - I'd been awake the whole previous day, doing the final preparations for my lecture. At about 9:30, I started wandering the streets of Charlotte, took in the last half of the last act of Romeo and Juliet being performed in the park, and through fortuitous circumstance bumped into a group of friends leaving their hotel - Alec Longstreth, Aaron Renier, Laura Park, Julia Wertz, Nicholas Gurewitch, and David Malki. They had just gotten in via train, and we all went to go look for some dinner. It was just after 10, and most places were closed, but we found a pizza place open.

Alec took command of the table, as everyone was hungry, ordering three pies with the assurance of the manager that if we weren't full that he'd provide another, free of charge. We ate merrily and passed around a drawing started by Alec of an old conductor getting robbed. We DID finish up the pizzas, and the manager DID give us another one, which was just as good as the first three. It was great getting to meet Nicholas and Laura, who I hadn't met before, or if I had it had only been in passing.

The next morning, Friday, everyone set up and the show began in earnest. I had the good fortune to sit across from my friends at the Oni Press booth (my publishers). Cory Casoni is the new marketing and PR guy at Oni, and he does his job ten times better than any of us would have ever dreamed hope, and I'm confident that he'll do great things for Oni - this is, of course, in addition to him being loads of fun, and hilarious.

Next to them were Mike and Matt Chapman, the brothers behind Home Star Runner, which, for those who've lived under a cave for the last five years, is the most consistently funny web animation series out there. They were so nice and generous (they gave me the Strongbad e-mail dvd set), and it wasn't until we were all packing up that I found out that they were Atlanta folks, too, living only a couple of miles from where Liz and I are moving to this weekend.

In our table block was a bevy of cartoonists that I know from just about every local show there is, most (if not all) of them being based in the Southeast. Except maybe Pat Lewis, who I think is in Ohio or some such place. But everybody else is in this general neck of the continental woods, including Dean Trippe, Jason Hornswaggle, Rob Ullman, J. Chris Campbell and Duane from Wide Awake Press, Brad McGinty, Josh Latta (who according to the Heroes site, shares a website with Brad... is that right, guys? I'll correct it if it ain't), Hope Larson, Bryan Lee O'Malley, and the guys from the Dollar Bin Podcast.

Matt Kindt, creator of Superspy, borrowed a copy of Crogan's Vengeance and was really nice about it. He also traded me a drawing of pipe man, one of my favorite characters in his book, for a picture I had done of the Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword (from Indiana Jones). Here's Matt's drawing, which is no end of beautiful:

I also did a trade with Hope, who did these characters from her new book, Chiggers:

Mal did a picture for me too (an intended gift for Liz, actually) of young Neil crying, her favorite part of the first book. But it's on his Flickr account, so I won't put it here... check his out! He did a lot of great sketches this weekend.

Hope, Evan the Intern, and Mal

On Friday night I had dinner with Brian Hurtt, Cullen Bunn and his wife, Randy, and Cory, after a LONG walk to find a place. It was great - delicious food, good drinks, nice atmosphere. Hurtt and I have a similar idea for an anthology series, one that I hope we can work on together. He's also been putting AMAZING sketchbook stuff on his blog, so check him out.

Saturday Morning I did a few sketches...

And then went upstairs to give my lecture on Character Design. It went really well - I've been planning it for weeks, so I felt ready for it - and there was a really good-sized, responsive crowd there. There's a bit about it on Kevin Burkhalter's journal comic, if you want cartoon audience response.

Kazimir Strzepek was kind enough to man my table while I was gone. I did my best to send people to buy his book, which I think was one of the best available at the show.

I bought AdHouse's Project Superior #3, which had a cover by that grand English gentleman Roger Langdridge...

with stories by HeroesCon organizer Dusty Harbin and Laura Park. I drew a picture of Dusty:

And another of Laura, which I colored at home:

I also picked up the new issue of Papercutter, published by Greg Means... it was, as usual, amazing. Here's Greg with Alec, and you can see Indie Spinner Rack's Charlito in the background:

Saturday evening it poured down rain, and me and Doug Dabbs, Cara McGee, Jackie Lewis/, a couple of Jackie's friends from her days at Emory (one of whom was apparently in "Into the Wild"), maybe Brent Morris, I'm not sure, but he was around a lot with this crowd so I'm guessing yes, Rachel, and another guy from SCAD-Atlanta's illustration grad program. We had Tex-Mex, and me and Doug were daring and got the buffet. Mmmm!

That night was hopping! Everybody and their brother and sister was at the Westin lobby bar (we stayed at the Westin, by the way, and it is posh, with beds you never want to get out of), and it was just a good time all around. I spent a lot of time talking about (among other things) the difference in distillation between American Gin and English Gin with an English expatriot writer named Ben (whose last name I don't know, but he's engaged to Heidi MacDonald). He pretty much carried the evening for all in attendance.

Sunday was mostly spent doing sketches, like this one of Iron Man:

And this one of Short Round, which is of terrible photo quality, I apologize. It was for a "Sidekicks" sketchbook.

I also got to see Jeff Parker quite a few times. We read a lot of his Marvel Adventures stuff on the way back to Atlanta, and if there is any doubt that Superhero monthlies can still be really, really good and loads of fun to read, then these books will asway it.
Here's Parker on the right, talking to brand new dad Dean Trippe:

That night we all went over to the Heroes Aren't Hard to Find store for the dead dog party, were we had disappointingly rationed amounts of AMAZING barbecue and copious amounts of delicious pizza. It was a great wrap-up, and I bought a few things at the store, including Wimbledon Green (which I've read a dozen times) and a cool little statue. I also, over the course of the weekend, picked up Ben Towle's Midnight Sun, which I've been dying to read, and Chris Wright's Inkweed. I got lots of trades and minis and whatnot, too, and came back with luggage about twenty pounds heavier. After the store party, we went back to the hotel, where we briefly went up to Darwin Cooke's room and watched a guy paint. Afterwards we went to our respective rooms and crashed, knowing we had but a few precious hours of sleep until the morning.

On Monday morning, a bunch of us went to breakfast at a big fancy pancake place - it was me, Shawn, Nolan, Andrew, Cory, Randy, Jason Latour, Jeremy Haun, and one of my favorite guys to see at these shows, Chris Brunner. I ordered prospector flapjacks, but Randy ordered a REALLY delicious looking eggs benedict with hollandaise sauce and it looked so good that bI ate my flapjacks with the syrup of unpalatable envy.

We headed back that afternoon. I read the Parker comics, lots of them out loud for the benefit of the others, and we got in around 4:30ish.

That's it! I'll have some new drawings up soon, but I hope that everyone had as good a time as I did.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Usagi Yojimbo + Postcard

I figured out what to do with the squid pic... I made it into a postcard, complete with place on the back for writing and stamps and the like. I'll have 'em at Heroes.
They're slightly bigger than a regular sized postcard, but not by much:

And here's a pic of Usagi I did, for funsies. Anyone not reading Usagi Yojimbo should be. It's easily one of the best comics of all times.

That's it. Also, Lucy Knisely's X-Files drawing series has got me fondly remembering the early episodes, so I just rangled season 1 to rewatch... maybe I'll contribute to the challenge once I remind myself of some of the good characters.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Merchant Captain vs. a Squid (or sea monster of some sort)

Woo-eee! It was a record-breaking ninety-eight degrees this week here in Atlanta, where I've spent the last couple of days trying to reclaim our new yard from the hundreds of roots and vines that crisscross the thing. Liz has been fixin' up the insides, and twixt the two of us we'll likely have it in good shape come move-in day. Her family's coming down from Kentucky on Thursday to help paint.

Still trying to fill the new stuff void that a year of working on Crogan's Vengeance has created in time for HeroesCon in a couple of weeks. The smokers print is done and printed, but the numerous comments turned me on to the fact that there are STILL quite a few quality characters that I inadvertantly left out, and so I'm strongly considering adding them to the mix. I'm also thinking about doing some prints using some pulp archetype characters I've been playing with. Whether anything comes of them aside from the illustrations, I can't say, but that's how the pirate characters started out - seven archetypal characters, all of which made it into the book (though only five were major characters).

Anyway, too much blabbing... I had an idea for the Merchant Marine-style captain character that you see in TinTin, King Kong, Corto Maltese, Adventures of the Scarlet Queen, etc, fending off a Big Squid or something. Here are the thumbnails:

And, after settling on one, I did the final drawing:

I left the upper section mostly open, in the pulp tradition of leaving space for a title. You never know...

Tomorrow I'll be trying to finally get down to business and finish editing the FLUKE coverage for Indie Spinner Rack. My apologies to everyone for taking so long to get it over to those guys.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Smokers of the Marvel Universe

Well! Sorry to be so heavy on the cape-and-tights stuff lately, but the drawings I did last week got me excited about doing that Smokers-of-the-Marvel-Universe print I've been kicking around. Also, I don't know how to do the "doink" thing where everyone has a link to a longer post, so here's the thing in its entirety. For those on Livejournal with me on your friends page, I do apologize for causing you to scroll so much to reach the next post.

Also, I've had the last class of my MFA program! Still have to finish my thesis, but for all intents I'm done.

Anyway, without further ado:


Much thanks to Ryan Dunlavey, Andrew Wales, Pat Lewis, and YodaJones and SpanoMano from the ISR forum for helping me compile a list of Marvel Smokers.